Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Home Beautiful: A Porcelain Dressing Table Mirror, 1756

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a mirror and stand of soft-paste porcelain which has been painted with enamels. It features gilt-metal mounts and a brass plaque. Four drawers of brass with brass handles comprise the lower part. On the reverse is a brass door engraved with a dotted pattern of flowering stems.

The mirror’s stand is in the form of a monumental fountain. Six scrollwork feet and flowered drapery complete the look of grandeur and three ducks and bulrushes in relief add a bit of the whimsical to the design. Gilt scrolls and painted bouquets and sprays of flowers add to the overall effect of Rococo splendor which dominated the style of 1756, the year this was made.

The mirror’s frame takes a decidedly rococo form with a border of gilt scrollwork and a circular recess at the top which is painted outside and inside with bouquets and enclosed by sculpted branches of laurel. The concave recess was intended to house a watch movement or the clockwork movement of a music box. A pair of doves in relief surmount the mirror which has been made to lean against the stand.

Such a mirror and stand were intended for a lady's dressing table. This one has quite a history and was probably the “Lady's Toilet” set which was offered at an auction of important pieces of Chelsea porcelain in 1758. The Chelsea factory produced wares for the elite of London.

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